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Davidoff: A rational spin on a crazy Mets season

Mets' closer Francisco Rodriguez arrives in handcuffs at

Mets' closer Francisco Rodriguez arrives in handcuffs at Queens Criminal Court, Thursday. (Aug. 12, 2010) Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

Look at it this way, Mets fans (if you haven't switched allegiances, or moved your family): Even in times of boring play, your team still manages to captivate us.

Good Lord. Of course Francisco Rodriguez will miss the rest of the season because he tore a muscle in his right thumb, allegedly during his alleged attack on his children's grandfather.

(Yup, two "alleges." One for the act, and one for the correlation to the injury. At least the Mets lead the league in something.)

Lots of hysteria out there, so let's try to get a sense of what this latest unfathomable development really means:

1. K-Rod and the Mets. The Mets will consider all options, including trying to void the rest of the closer's contract, a person in the loop told Newsday. Both the Mets' lawyers and Major League Baseball's labor-relations attorneys already are on the case.

Realistically, though, voiding the duration of the contract - a value of about $18.5 million - won't fly.

Here's a more realistic path for the Mets: File a grievance to recoup the roughly $3.5 million Rodriguez was scheduled to receive from Aug. 12 (the day after the brawl) through the end of the season. That, after all, is the period in which Rodriguez is unavailable.

Proving that K-Rod suffered the injury in the fight could be challenging, but Queens County could provide the Mets with some leverage with either a guilty verdict (on the charges of third-degree assault and second-degree harassment) or a Rodriguez plea bargain.

2. K-Rod and the Mets, Part II: In order to vest his $17.5-million option for 2011 (against a $3.5-million buyout), Rodriguez must 1) finish at least 55 games in 2011; 2) finish at least 100 games combined in 2010; and 3) pass a physical after the '11 season. He concluded 2010 with 46 games finished. So if he finishes a 55th game next year, he'll instantly hit the first two provisions (since 55+46=101).

3. The Mets' image. They're getting absolutely crushed, understandably so, for this latest embarrassment - on top of their season turning south. K-Rod's injury hurts the teams on both the public-relations and baseball fronts.

I don't quite see how a team that is 59-59 should be regarded as an industry joke. Besides, no one really thought the Mets would contend this season. Yet when the Mets jumped to a strong start, then fell back, that seemed to bolster their status as laughingstocks.

Maybe they can score some points on the visceral front by taking some of K-Rod's money, if not his job security. Perhaps the expected late-night signing of first-round draft pick Matt Harvey, paying him over slot, will offer a glimmer of hope. Or it could just be that a series of good decisions and better results will be required to win back credibility.

4. Jerry Manuel's image. Here's what he said Monday about K-Rod's incident: "You don't condone it, but you can see why. I think that's what has to be taken into account with your frustrations and things."

Asked if there is something he knows about the incident that makes him less angry with Rodriguez, Manuel said: "Well, I think as men, once you have all that information as men I think we all would have reacted in some form. Maybe not in that form, but in some form. And I think I have to kind of leave it at that."

Manuel's candor used to be an asset. No more. His words during the K-Rod situation only enhance the notion that the Mets need a new skipper in '11. Especially since they'll have the same closer.

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